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New boss but same old story at the King’s Fund

A recent King’s Fund report, Making it happen – next steps in NHS reform, stated that it was essential for the government to “dispel any lingering doubt about it’s commitment to the market-based reforms” and that “the Department of Health should continue to actively encourage and support the exercise of choice”.

Considering that market based reforms of the NHS are controversial, backed by little evidence, and opposed by the BMA, it is important to try and understand why the King’s Fund is so pro-market. Also, the King’s Fund is probably the most influential health think-tank.

Its strategy is set by a board of trustees: “The role of the Board of Trustees is to agree the organisation’s overall strategic direction, in line with its charitable objectives, and to scrutinise management functions delegated to the Senior Management Team.”

The King’s Fund website states that it aims to “shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change”. It also states that: “The King’s Fund’s independence means we are uniquely placed to provide an objective perspective on government health policies and those of opposition parties, as well as brokering debate on key issues affecting the health service and patients.”

Considering the above statements it is interesting to note that the eight members of the King’s Fund’s board of trustees are as follows:

1. Simon Stevens – president of Global Health at UnitedHealth Group. He was previously the Prime Minister’s health advisor.

2. Dr Penny Dash – adviser to a wide range of organisations including the NHS, independent health care providers, pharmaceutical companies and private equity groups. She’s a former DoH head of strategy and planning, who worked closely with Alan Milburn, in the development of the NHS Plan. She is a partner at management consultants McKinsey.

3. Strone Macpherson – chairman of Tribal consulting. The Tribal group has been appointed to the DoH’s framework for procuring external support for commissioners, i.e. PCTs pay Tribal to help with their commissioning functions. Tribal also provides ‘technical experts’ in all aspects of funding, from PFI, LIFT and public procurement to social enterprises and boast the largest health architectural practice in Europe.  

4. Jude Goffe – a founding non-executive director at Monitor, the regulator of NHS foundation trusts.

5. Professor Julian Le Grand – former health advisor to Tony Blair and the leading academic proponent of the choice agenda.

6. David Wootton – lawyer and partner at Allen & Overy in London, an international law firm specialising in mergers and acquisitions, corporate transactions and corporate governance.

7. Dame Jacqueline Docherty – a former member of the management executive at the Department of Health, the Scottish Office, she’s now the chief exec at West Middlesex Hospital.

8. Cyril Chantler is chairman of the King’s Fund. He is an adviser to the Associate Parliamentary Health Group. This group enables parliamentarians, policy makers, healthcare professionals and the health industry to promote and discuss the national health agenda.

In view of the above membership of this board, it must be hard for the think-tank to be as objectively independent on government health policy as it claims to be. This is only reinforced by the appointment of Professor Chris Ham, another former DoH advisor as its new CEO. 

In addition, a number of Senior Associates and Expert Group members of the King’s Fund have also had key roles in developing the very government policies, which the King’s Fund is independently critiquing (for example, Mark Britnell, Paul Corrigan and Anna Dixon).

It’s time to recognise that the King’s Fund has a significant proportion of former DoH advisors, and people with commercial interests that could benefit from pro-market NHS reforms, helping to guide its work.

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One Response to “New boss but same old story at the King’s Fund”

  1. Edileine says:

    Or we can continue to let the rich white peploe look out for other rich white peploe. Yeah, that’ll work.We live in nation of “haves” and “have nots.” With few exceptions, the “haves” have one singular purpose – to protect whatever wealth they have acquired, hence the widening gap between the rich and the poor and the shrinking middle class. The “haves” console themselves by thinking they arrived at their present station in life solely on the merits of their own hard work (which I certainly don’t discount) and the “have nots” could easily become “haves” if they would simply work harder. But in reality, the “haves” have because they were raised around “haves,” taught by “haves,” and generally have a “have” mentality ingrained. Much of my work ethic and professional aspirations are the result of seeds sown by my parents and grandparents. And but for the support of my wife and family, I would not have an undergraduate degree, law degree, and (almost) advanced tax law decree.This is a long-winded way of saying, if we let the same 1% of the wealth of this country dictate (via their campaign and lobbying dollars) the policies for the remaining 99% of us, we will continue to see a prosporous 1% and an increasingly disinfranchised middle and lower classes.

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